Thanks to Chari at Happy to Design, Sundays give us a chance to repost some of our favorite blogs. I originally posted this story last October. Today I am including an update. Please feel free to add your own observations of public toilets via the comments, and then go visit other recycled posts.
I received an email from a friend this morning that humorously detailed the adventures of a woman in a public restroom. I had read it before, but I enjoyed revisiting it. It reminded me of some of my own observations and pet peeves about public restrooms. Here are a few:
1. My mother taught me at a very young age how to cover the toilet seat with toilet paper. This has several advantages. First, it forces you to check to see that there is indeed toilet paper in the stall. Second, it's quicker than situating the special seat covers that are sometimes found in public stalls. Third, you can then sit on the seat and not have to perform the "hover" move.
2. Whoever invented the paper toilet seat covers needs to go back to design school. These come with the center hole partially cut out, but you have to finish tearing it apart before placing it on the toilet seat. This often results in the whole thing falling completely apart, which means you have to throw that one away and start over.
If you do manage to get it separated, you are left with a flap that dangles down into the water once you place it on the toilet seat. That flap gets wet, and water wicks up onto the portion you are sitting on, resulting in a wet bottom. Why not package these things with the hole already cut out? In the meantime, just cover the seat with toilet paper.
The women's restroom at the Birmingham Airport used to have toilet seats that were covered with a plastic sleeve. The push of a button would dispense an entirely new, never used portion of plastic sleeve. I thought this was a great idea, but unfortunately the last time I was at the airport, I noticed that these seats had been removed.
3. Speaking of toilet paper, I wonder who invented the toilet paper holder that doesn't roll and only allows you to pull off one small piece of paper at a time. That person should be severely reprimanded. I'm sure the idea behind that invention is a paper saving measure. You get so frustrated trying to get enough paper that you just give up. However, I have noticed that when this type of paper holder is installed, lots of little squares of toilet paper collect on the floor. I would guess that more paper is wasted than saved. This reminds me of the "low flush" toilets that "conserve" water, but you have to flush them three or four times just to get everything to go down.
4. Why are there often hooks on the back of the door of every stall except the handicapped stall? I would think a handicapped person would appreciate a place to hang her purse just like anyone else. Some of us once had a discussion about whether we felt guilty or not if we used the handicapped stall. The consensus was that it was perfectly okay to do so if there was not a handicapped person waiting in line.
5. Paper towel dispensers in public restrooms are usually installed by men who are almost 7' tall. How do I know this? It's simple. When you walk up with wet hands to grab a towel from one of these dispensers, you have to reach up so high that water runs down your arms and gets your sleeves wet. It would be nice if paper towel dispensers were located right by the exit door. Then you could grab a towel, dry your hands, open the door with the used towel and then throw it in the trash can, which should be conveniently placed nearby.
A friend once told me that a doctor who was cautioning about the dangers of germs in public restrooms told her always to use a paper towel or other paper to open the door when exiting the restroom. He said that if there was no trashcan nearby to simply throw the paper on the floor. Maybe someone would get the hint. Of course, you could always just take the paper with you and dispose of it later.
6. One positive observation. On a recent trip to the airport in Amsterdam, Larry and Wayne confirmed that the urinals in the men's room do indeed have a fly painted in the bowl to improve a man's aim.
In spite of my complaints, I'm thankful for public restrooms when I need one. After all, I could be heading to the outhouse with my corncob or Sears catalogue or to the woods with my shovel.
7. After my trip to France, I would like to add another item to my list. I have read that the Turkish toilet is actually a more germ-free way to do your business because nothing touches it except your feet. However, unless your balance is good, it can be virtually impossible to maintain the proper stance necessary to keep from soiling your clothes. So what’s a girl to do if a Turkish toilet is the only public potty available as it was when we visited Les Baux de Provence?